Is it possible to solve a problem we don’t understand? No, if we don’t know about a problem we can’t resolve it. Yet sales people frequently attempt this. They walk into a sales call and begin laying out all of their features and benefits. The prospect becomes a deer in front of headlights desperately trying to figure out what all of this means to them. Sales people are in the business of providing a product or service that improves or solves things that a prospect is unhappy with. To be effective, we have to get information from people about what a problem is and, ideally, how we can solve it. So how do we get someone to open up and discuss it with us? Be genuinely interested in the prospect. When we ask questions and pay rapt attention to the answer, the prospect feels important. When a prospect feels important and we understand their problem, they are likely to see us as a viable solution for their situation.
Good questions build bridges with our prospect. This power comes from asking a good question and getting an honest answer. When we ask a good question, we throw a line to them. When we show interest in the answer, they pull us closer because we are engaged. All these lines begin to form a strong bond. Not only are we getting valuable information and beginning to understand the problem, we are strengthening our relationship. We want to know about them. When done effectively we not only have good recommendations but we are delivering it to a prospect that likes and respects us.
We have two ears and one mouth. Do the math. Ask good questions and listen. If we do that, we will easily listen twice as much as we speak. To begin improving your skills at listening to the prospect envision their problem as a story. We have to get the prospect to tell us their story. Ask questions to get all the details about the plot. Never interrupt them with how we feel about the story or something we have that can improve it. Simply let them tell the whole tale. There is no higher compliment than paying close attention to a prospect’s story. If we listen well to their story, later on we can tell them how the story ends happily ever after with our product or service.
We build credibility by the questions we ask not the information we give. Let the prospect talk about themselves. Our turn will come at the end to explain how we can help. We will find ourselves in an educated position about their situation and capable of solving the problem. If done well, they will see us in the same light.